Forelimb Mechanics during Arboreal and Terrestrial Quadrupedalism in Old World Monkeys

  • Daniel Schmitt


For over a century it has been known that primates have highly mobile grasping forelimbs with the supportive functions shifted more strongly to the hindlimbs, unlike most mammals where all four limbs share a fairly equal role in weight support. Darwin (1871) was the first to recognize this distinction between forelimb and hindlimbs and to articulate its evolutionary significance. Since that point many researchers have developed theories of primate locomotor evolution that suggest that the amount of compressive weight support experienced by the forelimb of primates was gradually reduced thus facilitating the use of the forelimb in tension and then allowing its complete removal from locomotion in humans (Wood Jones, 1926; Le Gros Clark, 1959; Napier and Davis, 1959; Napier, 1967; Stern, 1976; Ripley, 1979; Reynolds, 1981, 1985a,b; Cant, 1988; Rose, 1991). Fundamental to this scenario is the belief that the change in the role of the primate forelimb is directly related to adaptations to arboreal quadrupedalism by primates.


Vertical Force World Monkey Support Phase Vervet Monkey Small Pole 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Schmitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Anthropology and AnatomyDuke University School of MedicineDurhamUSA

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